Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hair Care, Skin Care

After deciding to adopt from Ethiopia, I spent a lot of time researching how to care for black hair and skin.  I found many blogs, youtube videos, websites, and articles that provided tips and insight in regards to what to do and how to do it.  Since coming home with Mikayla, we have tried various products/techniques and through trial and error have setted on some favorites that seem to really work for her hair and skin types.  I wanted to share what we do, in hopes of providing tips for others who might be on the same journey... and still trying to find something that works. 

Honestly, this one has been easy.  The first products I tried are the ones that I stuck with... and they are readily available in any grocery or drug store.  Drum roll please.... ready for it? 
We lather Mikayla's skin up twice a day with Lubriderm Intense Skin Repair body lotion. 

After baths, we use Johnson & Johnson's Baby Oil just for added moisture. 
That's it!  Mikayla has regularly seen a dermatologist for the past 8 months, and every time the derm. comments on how moisturized and healthy her skin looks/feels.  Now that the weather has been heating up around here, we have been swimming on a regular basis which definitely takes its toll on her skin, but these two products continue to work their magic and haven't let us down!

Caring for Mikayla's hair has been a bit trickier than the skin. In my opinion, the two essential items needed to care for black, natural hair are: 1) a good conditioner, and 2) a great daily hair moisturizer.   Here is our routine, including products we use and like:
  • Daily - On a daily basis we use a hair moisturizer (also referred to as "hair milk" or "hair lotion).  We moisturize Mikayla's hair three times each day: in the morning when she wakes up, after her nap in the afternoon, and before bed.  This is probably the most important part of our hair care routine.  I am currently alternating between these moisturizing/detangling products:
    • Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla Leave-In Conditioner.  This product smells wonderful, and I use it sometimes as an all-over spray for detangling/moisurizing, and sometimes just to target those spots prone to lots of tangling.  Many times I use this product in combination with the next one...
    • Blended Beauty Curly Cake Shake.  Love this stuff.  Mikayla's curls look gorgeous every time we use this.  I typically defer to this moisturizer when we are going out somewhere, because it gives the best immediate results.
    • Taliah Waajid Protective Mist Bodifier.  This stuff is a bit thick, so I usually pour it into a separate spray bottle and dilute it with distilled water.  I like to use this product when I want to get Mikayla's hair a bit more damp, so that I can comb and detangle certain areas on non-conditioner days.  This is used most often when she wears her hair in a loose style.  I love the smell of this product - very tropical!
    • Coconut Oil.  Yep, pure oil... works great!  This is wonderful to put on her hair overnight - the hair is always so soft the next day.  It is also helpful to use prior to bathing or swimming, because it helps the hair retain moisture in the water.  And of course it smells great!  We always laugh because our dog follows Mikayla around everywhere she goes when she has this stuff in her hair :) 
  • Every Other Day - We typically "co-wash" Mikayla's hair every two days, when she is wearing it in a loose style.  "Co-Wash" is a term that means washing the hair with conditioner (versus shampoo).  We regularly use these two conditioning products:
    • Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner.  This product smells yummy, and leaves the hair very soft and silky.  I actually think it works just as well as the Blended Beauty products... and it's cheaper!  Yay!  Once we finish the BB products, I will probably just continue to use this conditioner due to the cost savings.
  • Weekly (or more) - Every week or two (or three) I wash Mikayla's hair with actual shampoo.  We are sure to use extra moisturizer on the nights we use shampoo, since typically it dries the hair out quite a bit.  The shampoo that we use is:
    • Blended Beauty Silky Swirls Shampoo. Both of these products are fabulous. The Tug Me Not can be used on a daily basis, and the Herbal Reconditioner we use every now and then to get a really deep condition.  It's a very gentle shampoo, and the bottle is lasting FOREVER since we only use about one pump of this every couple of weeks. :)

  • For Styling - I have found two products that I tend to "fall back on" every time I put Mikayla's hair in any sort of style that needs to "hold" (such as braids, puffs, twists, etc.).
    • Taliah Waajid Lock It Up Gel.  This is a pretty light formula (for a gel), and I find it especially helpful to use when I put in braids or cornrows because it holds all the little pieces of her hair in the braid.  This type of gel may not be necessary as her hair gets longer/thicker, and might possibly hold itself better.
    • Darcy's Botanicals Avocado & Honey Twisting Cream.  This product is great because it acts as a hair moisturizer, but is a thicker cream and therefore great for helping hold styles.  I enjoy using this product to hold in all the "fly away" hairs when I put in puffs or pigtails.

A few products we have tried that we DON'T really care for are:
  • Carol's Daughter Hair Milk - Many people LOVE this product, but it just really doesn't keep Mikayla's hair moisturized.  It also has a weird smell (in my opinion), so I don't like it for that reason alone. 
  • Curls Products For Kids - Again, many people loves these products, but they just don't do the moisturizing job of the other products we regularly use. We ordered the trial kit and are still using it up so as not to waste the money, but I am glad I didn't spend money on any of the larger size products. 
A couple of my favorite "hair" websites are:
  • Happy Girl Hair - This site has lots of great tips on anything and everything about black, natural haircare (mainly focused on kids).  The most recent posts are actually on "Yarn Braids"... a style we are definitely considering trying out this month since we'll be going on vacation and I want Mikayla to wear a style that will last and be EASY!  Mikayla will love it because the yarn acts as "extensions," and makes the hair longer :)
  • Katlynylyn's YouTube Channel - Everyone laughs when I tell them that I learned most of my styles from YouTube... but it's true!  And in my opinion, this is the best channel for learning :)
Here are a few pictures of "the princess" herself, modeling various hair styles we have tried over the past months...

First attempt at styling, other than headbands... Puffs!

All-over box braids with flower clips

Two-Strand twists with flower clips (Mikayla wore this style for Easter this year)
Multiple styles in one... cornrows on top (first attempt), held with bantu knots, box braids in box with our first-ever use of beads!

And the style we still fall back on for loose hair... a super cute headband that shows off Mikayla's beautiful curls!

And yes, in case you are wondering from the above picture... she did lose two more teeth recently!  We are now up to a total of four and I think we may have another two out before long.  The tooth fairy is going broke around here! :)  But, teeth or no teeth, she still wins the "cutie patootie" award!

Thanks for reading our post about hair and skin!  Leave comments and let me know if you have any suggestions or tips for products, styles, websites, etc. that you have learned from or enjoy!


  1. Hi Bethany

    I really like the loose hair (shiny)/head band look that Mikaela had on your new post (of the kids doing craft). Can you give me some tips? what you used? her hair looks shiny and healthy. My daughter's hair is still very short, and we go swimming a lot now, so this style is perfect for her.
    and also, where did you get the headband, it is cute! thanks!

  2. Hi Bethany,

    Thanks for the great post. Now that Natalie's hair is getting longer I'm trying to get all the advice I can on hair. I'm wondering whether the products you mention would work on Natalie's hair. She has pretty tight corkscrews. I think her category is 4a. What are Mikayla's curls like? You can email me at if you have time. Thanks!


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